Thursday, 21 January 2010

Good food on the aga (Heath)

I was browsing through this book last week, having picked up a copy at the Persephone bookshop the week before, and felt that it would be a shame not to blog about it as although an Aga cookbook might not seem like an obvious read, this was both interesting and entertaining!

Written in 1933, four years after the Aga had first come onto the market in Britain, this is a book that firstly deals with the scope of the aga, and then provides 12 chapters of seasonal recipes that can be cooked using the Aga. In actual fact, I think most of the recipes could be cooked without an Aga (and, currently doing a harsh exclusion diet*, I was able to torture myself with thoughts of yummy food). It also has charming illustrations by Edward Bawden.

The recipes were fantastically written; the recipe for pilau rice concluded: "and then the whole thing is well warmed up and esten, let us hope with gluttonous ejaculations". What a wonderful phrase - I'd love my cooking to produce those sorts of noises!

I loved the fact that literary references are included in the work, and was tickled to see a reference to a Virago Modern Classic that I read, The constant nymph, in a recipe for zabaglione! It's fun when books that one has read crop up in other books.

My only quibble with the recipes is that they do assume quite a reasonable knowledge of cooking - one is told to make batter as the basis for something (e.g. stuffed pancakes), but without being given a batter recipe.

* This is responsible for the recent absence of bake of the week - I have been doing some exclusion diet baking, but it is not terribly entertaining or always very tasty, and wasn't sure it was worth blogging about...


  1. This sounds like fun. I don't have an Aga but like you mentioned you probably don't need one anyway. But it sounds like a good read. Love that 'gluttonous' phrase too!

  2. I melt at the sign of an AGA on Escape to the Country and would most likely fall prey to a fool-hardy purchase based on that one feature.

  3. We have an aga! The previous owner installed it more to help with seaside damp than to cook on. So I really must add this book to the collection one day. And having read a few aga cookbooks I think you're right - anything you can do on an aga can be adapted to an ordinary cooker. Though sometimes one is better than t'other!


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